FAO in Lao People's Democratic Republic

Trademark and Geographical Indication division fully operational


Vientiane.- The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) held an equipment handover ceremony for its newly created Trademark and Geographical Indication Division, dedicated to the coordination of the Geographical Indication registration process, allowing potential Lao origin linked products to enjoy intellectual property legal protections and boost reputation.

The equipment handover ceremony was presided over H.E Prof. Vongdara Boviengkham, Minister of Science and Technology,  and Dr. Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative to Lao PDR. Participants also included Mr. Olivier Gilard, French Agency for Development (AFD) Country director, Dr. Khanlasy Keobounpanh, General Director of the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) and Mr. Stephane Passeri, project coordinator of the FAO –AFD project to promote geographical indications in Asia.

 “The opening of this new division is a win for Lao products, we hope to work for the promotion of a better image at the regional level that boosts exports and competitiveness, as Lao prepares to enter the ASEAN Economic Community.” said Prof. Boviengkham.

 The Ministry’s newly created trademark and GI division was possible with the support of a regional project operated by FAO and funded by AFD, to assist the Government with training, capacity building,   coordination and knowledge sharing  between public and  private sectors the value chain stakeholders of potential Lao GI products, which include Bolaven coffee,  Khao Kai Noy from Houaphan and Xieng Khouang, silk from Luang Prabang and Houaphan;  and tea from Phongsaly and Paksong.

 “Creating a platform for improving the visibility of Lao products is a critical work. The high-value of Lao products should be recognized and GI can help build their  successful branding.” mentioned, Dr. Rudgard.

 Mr. Gilard congratulated the Government for this new step to adhere to intellectual property legal protections, while stressing the importance for Lao PDR to invest in the capacity to disseminate potential GI products outside the country.

 During the three year regional project, participant representatives from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Lao PDR , have come together to create a regional network to exchange experiences, strengthen GI protection and harmonize GI registration, provide capacity building to government agencies involved in the registration of GI but also GI control and promotion as well as for GI value chain stake-holders such as producers, operators or trader in managing GI and benefit from products valorizations . The FAO –AFD project has also assisted on the Lao Government on developing a GI database and to consolidate a Lao National Committee on GI  chaired by the DIP but also  composed by different government  ministries and the Lao Chamber of Commerce.

 Currently, the Department of Intellectual Property is finalizing the implementing regulations that will enable the  start of  GI registration processes for Lao products, allowing them to gain better recognition nationally  and internationally . In addition, Foreign GI will also been allowed to be registered  and protected in Lao PDR and Lao GI will also be able to gain this protection in foreign countries as well. 

 Geographical Indication is defined in Lao PDR as a sign used to indicate a good as originating in the territory of a country or region or locality in that territory, where a given quality and reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

Famous products registered as geographical indications include France’s champagne, Cambodia’s Kampot pepper, Thailand’s Doi Chaang coffee, and Vietnam Phu Quoc fish sauce

 Other benefits of Geographical Indications are the protection of producers against fraud, misuse, and counterfeiting .